Saturday, December 11, 2010

Merry Christmas from Rwanda

Donna here…so you know this will be long update! What a day.

And so many of you made it possible!!!

Holly woke up early…or shall we say didn’t really sleep as there was a big party somewhere in the hills that sounded like it was right next door.

She put the time to good use as she organized all the gifts and supplies we brought. 5 came with me, 2 with Holly and 1 with DJ so there was much to do.

The big kids came to the house knowing that something special was going to happen today, but not quite sure what it would be. Chantal and Mbanda arrived and announced that it was Christmas at New Hope Homes today. WHOO HOO.

The kids then helped the Uncles clean the class room for the party. They took out all the tables, chairs and rugs and scrubbed them till they sparkled.

Holly then lead all the kids in playing, learning and just giggling so DJ and I could work with Chantal and Mbanda to video their story. Mbanda talked about growing up in a refugee settlement, then at age 19 setting out on a walk for 6 months in search of a education in Nairobi. He begged, slept on the street and did whatever he could to get there. A young 23 year from the US named Nancy gave him the seed money to get this education started. A $300 gift that changed his life and ultimately the lives of thousands of kids around the world. We’ll share the video when it complete. It’s an amazing story of how just a wee bit of money can change the destiny of a child’s life and we thank you if you have been one of those people for our kids here at New Hope Homes.

Chantal then shared her story on video about seeing the thousands of kids living on the street. She spoke about her conviction that she had to ‘do something’. She looked in the eyes of this kids who lived in despair with simply no hope. Then how got a clear vision of how she could transform lives by pairing 10 orphaned and abandoned kids together with a window, adding some young ladies for aunties and some men for cooks and night watchmen…thus was born New Hope Homes. Chantal talked about how our kids enter the homes…stick thin, ill, hopeless and how within a matter of a few weeks she can see the light come back on in their eyes as they begin to grasp the concept that all of their needs will be met here. The kids will be loved, get their medical needs taken care of , be spiritually fed and be educated in the best schools. Chantal believes the best way to break the cycle of poverty is through education so we send our kids to private school. The public schools have a student/teacher ratio of 75:1 so we don’t believe they can really be educated to their fullest potential in that kind of environment.

We also have two kids with very special needs. Deborah who has cerebral palsy and Desami who has a serious challenge with one leg. His twin brother runs and plays and lives a full life. However the other twin cannot yet stand. As we speak, he is away for a month getting intense PT. As you can see, we want ALL of our kids to reach their fullest potential and we want Desami to stand and one day walk.

THEN came Christmas.

Holly organized the kids to decorate our tree. They carefully placed each bulb and garland. Then she filled their tiny hands with tinsel and at the count of three they all tossed it into the air with bulk of it landing on the tree. Can you hear the giggling now?


saac, Sande, Kayitesi and Fabiola read a story about the birthday of Christ as the kids listened attentively. Then they all danced and sang for a bit to celebrate the birthday of our King. When finished they all sat on the floor very quietly as I talked to the kids and adults about how all you love them from so far away. I shared that so many of you took the time to buy them the perfect present for the kids. AND also gave the Mommies, Auntie and Uncles the gift of money for them to go have a special outfit made. I told them we understand that raising this many kids as beautifully as they do will NEVER be taken for granted. I ensured that they know we appreciate all that they do to give our kids everything they need to thrive.

The kids then sat down and 2-3 at a time came forward to receive your gifts. We told each child who loved them and they opened their treasures. It was so amazing to see the look on their faces as they opened their bag. Then they dug through them to see who gave it to them. If you enclosed a card they went to the corner in private place to read it or have it read to them. Then opened the card like it was the precious treasure that it was. They studied every picture, every word. If you enclosed a photo of you, they ran around and showed everyone your picture.

As you imagine all of this made for chaos and joy. There are no words to express what you have done.

Next we took a big group shot and held up a Merry Christmas sign that each of the kids had made together with Holly. They each drew a picture on it to be a part of the story.

They kids looked “so very smart” as they would say in their new outfits. They ran around and showed everyone their shoes, toys and clothes. EVERYTHING fit perfectly. I am so thankful that Abby and Sarah did such a great job in July measuring everyone. This is the 1st time that everyone has fit perfectly. Often we have to mix and match to make it work!

Given that we didn’t have time to cook for the adults this time (read as…whoops, sure miss Sarah, Abby, Kristen, Liles cooking) we had it catered so everyone could simply be present to each other. It was a wonderful investment…and thanks so many people that donated funds so we could make this day special. For less than $200 we fed nearly 40 people!

The kids exited and the 3 of us crashed. Zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Did I mention that all of this is a bit exhausting?

The big kids came back and chilled with us. They were sooooooooo excited about the day. After skyping with lots of people we tried out the projector I brought and projected a DVD on the wall. WOW….now that was fun.

A yummy dinner and English lessons for the adults rounded out our day.

I am soooooooooo grateful to have DJ’s beautiful spirit with us and great talent for photographing and videotaping the kids. Holly is amazing. She knows all 27 kids names and has about 5 or 6 piled on her lap or in her arms at once nearly all day long. A natural gift for nurturing, she too is making a lasting impression on our kids.

So as we end the day, I want you to know how much YOU MATTER TO US. Your love, prayer and financial support are making a real difference in the lives our kids and I am grateful.

With love,


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